Sunday, April 28, 2013

Charlaine Harris isn't your bitch

I know, I know... this is already on a bajillion and ten blogs and I'm ripping off the title of a blog written by a far more clever individual. I just decided I needed to come out of semi-retirement to post on this.

It seems that someone in Germany managed to get a copy of the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Rather than quietly read it in secret and share the ending with only a few people, they pretty much broadcast the ending to most of the Internet, knowing that the pairing at the end of the book would probably piss off a lot of readers. Knowing that not everyone wants to know about the spoiler ahead of time and not wanting the flame fest between readers and towards her to continue, she politely asked for people to not talk about the book until it released.

Many readers respected this, but it seems like there were a ton of people that threw hissy fits about this and came up with various theories about why Harris requested this and other such ideas. Mary Janice Davidson wrote a rather informative blog about this, so I'll not bother restating it here although I will summarize some of it.

What irritated me the most was that people were saying that Harris was trying to stifle free speech and that she had no right to write the ending she did. While it's been a while since I've read the books (I lost interest in them a while ago for various reasons), she can write the endings any way she wants. Every author does. Does this mean it's necessarily the ending everyone would want or the best ending to the series? No, but it's their prerogative to write the way they want to.

It's just poor form for people to jump all over this the way they have.

Further Reading:
*The Bullying of Charlaine Harris and the Wisdom of Neil Gaiman


  1. Sweet Jeebus....

    I will never fully wrap my head around the whole "She owes her fans" crap. You read, you like, you read more. You no like? You no read.

    Seems simple.

  2. I don't think you have all the information, and certainly not enough to belittle readers.
    To Rob: I've read your watt pad and the posts on FB that you've made and all I can say is you certainly are aiming for that free publicity. What's the name if your book again?

    She write an awful book. Is she really that surprised at reader reaction? Give me a break.

    1. I think what you're missing Anon is that it's not reaction that it's a bad book, it's the insistence that it was supposed to end the way they wanted it to end, and fury that it did not. That's where it gets problematic.

      Works begin, continue, and end as the artist desires. The consumer is free to patronize with purchases or not.

    2. Pretty much what Rob said. It's fine if people don't like the ending, but it's another thing if they get angry just because it didn't end the specific way they wanted it to. I mean, I'm not entirely happy with who she ended up with (I was at one point, but now I'm sort of "eh" about this) but I'm not going to completely dismiss a book I haven't read because of who Sookie's HEA ends up being.

  3. I agree Rob. Having said that, readers have a reasonable expectation of consistency, continuity, decent plot and dialogue. When a writer does not deliver, it isn't unreasonable to express their disappointment.

    It is however, unacceptable to make threats and post spoilers on a non spoiler thread.

    Unfortunately for Charlaine, she almost invited the FBposts by making the announcement that she did. She is fanning the spoiler flames, then whining about it.

    Ultimately it comes down to book sales. And since the disappointing end has been revealed, her pre-order numbers have fallen.

    It's her book and her career, so yes, she is free to flush it down the toilet if she wants to.

    1. What would you propose she have done differently, Anon?

      The book is leaked early. Fair enough it happens. Then people post spoilers, fair enough, it happens. Then they come to ~her~ Facebook Wall and post spoilers, rants and threats. Okay, not so cool.

      Her options seemed to be:

      a) Do nothing. While it is her bit of wall, she could leave it open for others to use as they see fit, including defaming her.

      b) Delete the offensive comments and spoilers without a word.

      c) Delete just the threats but leave the spoilers there for those who have not even had a chance to read the book yet.

      d) Delete the offensive comments and spoilers and tell people that she will continue to do so until the book is released.

      If you ask me, a is out of the question for the same reason that your right to free speech does not extend to private property. You can protest out side a McD's for bad treatment of workers but you can't cross onto their property to do the same.

      b is out because as soon as people realize that she's doing it, they'll all assume the worst and the crap storm will rage anyways.

      c is out because people don't expect there to be spoilers on the author's own wall before the book is even out.

      That leaves D, which she did.

      She acted professionally in response to this because any other response would have been far far worse.

      I've no problems at all with people saying they thought the ending was bad. Fine. Don't like it. Write a 1 star review and say "I thought Sookie should have..... " and whatever. Take the book back. Ask for a refund. Do what you gotta do.

      But it's totally out of line to a) threaten the author, b) insist that she should have ended it a different way because it's what you wanted.

      I think we may not be as far from each other as would first appear. I totally support that someone might not like how ~any~ work ends. But there are reasonable ways to express that, and there are unreasonable. From the looks of things, the unreasonable got a pretty solid head start.

  4. But in responding the way she did, it basically confirmed the spoilers. Would've been better to let people continue to speculate the validity of the spoiler and its source. At least her pre-order sales wouldn't have taken a dive.

    If I were her publisher, I would move up the release date to stave off any further revenue loss. I would also go after the distributor or bookstore who released the book early.

    Btw- there is now a bookstore in France selling the book.